July 3, 2022

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Lawyers say PGA TOUR may face legal challenges to suspend LIV participants

Lawyers say PGA TOUR may face legal challenges to suspend LIV participants

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Now that it’s the PGA Tour Seventeen players were officially suspended To agree to participate in the LIV Golf event, TOUR may face a “major” antitrust lawsuit, according to some lawyers who specialize in incomplete law.

“The PGA Tour really opens itself up to a major lawsuit with potential antitrust allegations and also a situation where they can’t justify what they’re doing other than saying, ‘We don’t like competition,'” said John Lauro, attorney in New York and Florida.

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan speaks at a press conference during practice for the THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass on March 8, 2022, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
(Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

“The courts will be very concerned about why the PGA TOUR is doing this,” Lauro continued. “These cases are now being considered very carefully from an antitrust perspective by the courts. The courts are looking very skeptically at any kind of trade restriction, and that will be part of what the PGA Tour does.”

And if you take a look at the note issued by the PGA TOUR to members, they are surely nervous about the competition that LIV Golf has to offer.

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In it, PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan accuses LIV participants of “Managing their backs on the PGA Tour.” Then he gets a little fiddling and hacks them for not providing the proper paperwork: “You know, (LIV) players… haven’t received the necessary conflicting events and media rights releases — or they haven’t applied for a release at all.”

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He also seems to be judging players for wanting to play for money.

“These players made their choice for financial reasons of their own,” Monahan tsk-tsks.

Bryson DeChambeau waits to take his shot into the seventh bunker during the second round at the Masters golf tournament on Friday, April 8, 2022, in Augusta, Ga.

Bryson DeChambeau waits to take his shot into the seventh bunker during the second round at the Masters golf tournament on Friday, April 8, 2022, in Augusta, Ga.
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Apparently, Monahan believes the PGA TOUR is a charitable organization. But it is not. It’s a well-funded business, and has not, as yet, had to compete for golfers or fans. The Saudis and LIV Golf have changed all that.

According to Oro and fellow attorney Jonathan Pollard, the PGA TOUR will face lawsuits to suspend players and that they will have difficulty convincing a court that they should do so to protect vital property interests.

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In order to successfully enforce an incomplete agreement, Pollard says the PGA Tour must demonstrate that a player’s participation in a LIV Golf event would jeopardize “confidential information, trade secrets, protectable customer relationships, or unusual investment in employee education or training.”

“These are the three largest and most litigious legitimate business interests on which a court can enforce an imperfect agreement,” Pollard said. “And if you look at this situation through the PGA Tour, you’re not going to find any of those interests present even remotely.”

Not to mention that commenting players doesn’t make much commercial sense.

“(The PGA Tour) will have to drop their opposition to this,” Pollard predicts, “because no one is going to want to watch the PGA Tour if these big players aren’t playing. Then that will come to the bottom line, it will hit their advertising revenue, and eventually the market will force them to Sit at the table and make a deal.

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“The PGA Tour will not stand idly by and support the permanent or extended suspensions of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia. They are going to undo these suspensions. It will destroy their brand. It will destroy their business.”

So, at least according to attorneys John Lauro and Jonathan Pollard, the PGA Tour warrant that officially suspended players is a legally questionable gesture intended to preserve TOUR’s professional monopoly on golf. We’ll see if any of the suspended golfers will respond with a lawsuit.